It is hard to generalize the deep impact of adoption on birth parents. Each goes through a unique experience and copes in different ways. However, a variety of birth parents have written personal accounts of their experiences with placing their child or children for adoption. In turn, there are also a few research studies on the experiences of birth parents along with the emotions that tend to linger following the adoption. Certain recurring emotions make an appearance in both topics, including feelings of guilt, loss and resolution.
The information below explores the experiences of birth parents by discussing some of the previously mentioned topics.
Mourning the Loss of a Child
Placing a child for adoption can lead to a sense of dread and loss that is all-encompassing. This feeling of loss starts with the unplanned pregnancy, as the birth parents must come to accept the sometimes harsh reality of the pregnancy and the possibility of losing their own immediate life plans.
Almost all birth parents struggle with the decision of whether or not to place their child for adoption. Individuals who decide to do so must plan for a devastating loss in their lives while holding on to the hope that choosing adoption will lead to a better life for their baby, as well as for themselves.
The emotional pain from physical separation typically occurs soon after birth. Many different circumstances can impact the birth parents at the time of separation, including mixed feelings about support or objection from family members or from the other birth parent. Another factor is whether or not the planned adoption is open (this means the birth parent is allowed some later contact with the child).
The birth and actual surrendering of the baby can bring about feelings of shock, numbness and denial for the birth parents. All of these emotions are normal reactions to this loss.
Shame and Guilt
Birth parents oftentimes experience guilt and shame from selecting adoption for their child. Unfortunately, this tends to be because there is still stigmata and misunderstanding surrounding adoption. Some individuals lack the understanding of the circumstances that might lead to birth parents making the adoption decision. This type of stigma and judgment could foster feelings of guilt for the birth parents.
At first, there could be shame associated with the unplanned pregnancy itself as well as with admitting the situation to family, friends, coworkers and others. Shame about the pregnancy in question could lead to feelings of shame or incompetence regarding becoming a parent.
Once the child is born, this may bring new feelings of guilt because the birth parents feel as though they are “rejecting” the child, regardless of the deeply thoughtful and loving nature of the decision.
Placing a child for adoption could trigger some identity issues in birth parents. They may find themselves wondering, “Am I a parent?” Some birth parents face feelings of incompleteness since they are parents without a child and their status as parents generally isn’t acknowledged among family and friends. If the birth parents decide to have other children that they choose to raise, views of their own identities, as well as the identities of all of their children, could be impacted.
Such questions of identity may extend to their relationship with their child in the case that the adoption is open. At first, birth parents who choose to participate in open adoptions may wonder how they will fit into this new relationship with their child once the adoptive parents become the legal parents.
In conclusion, there are a variety of challenges and emotions birth parents have to face when placing a child for adoption. Birth parents should seek counselors who have notable experience with bereavement and adoption. Here at Destiny Adoption Services, we host regular birth mother support groups. Whether you placed your child for adoption yesterday or 20 years ago, we welcome you to join us. For more information and assistance contact us.
Author: Destiny Adoption Services
Destiny Adoption Services is proud to support and guide birth parents and adoptive families on the journey of adoption. We’re a state licensed nonprofit adoption agency with four decades of adoption experience, and our professional team of experts includes moms, adoptive moms and birth mothers who provide compassion combined with trusted resources and skills.